For those who haven’t heard, Wizards of the Coast launched a survey a couple of days ago to get fans’ answers to questions about how they play D&D, what sort of swag they’d buy, and so forth.
As an old-timer, I found some of the questions odd. I mean yay, they lead off with a setting question (VOTE GREYHAWK YOU SCREWHEADS!), but the choices they give are telling. The three they have in print right now, plus Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Planescape, and Spelljammer. They do allow write-ins, for fans of Mystara, Blackmoor, and other settings, but I think the choice of listed settings is somewhat significant in terms of where their heads are right now.
Speaking as someone who used to design surveys and polls for a living, the survey is something of a grind. There are a lot of questions, many of them are repetitive (and that’s actually a legitimate thing, to help figure out consistency within answers), and there are a lot of choices. Imagine writing that survey about floor coverings, and having to do it over the phone by pressing the buttons on your phone. But I digress…
I did notice a few really “out there” questions, like how important it is to you that logistics and scheduling were handled for tabletop games, a number of “planning vs. chaotic action” questions, and several aimed at how much people watch streaming D&D games. I confess the latter has no interest for me at all, but I know for a fact that the execs are seeing things like Overwatch leagues and are wondering how they can cash in on that sort of thing, turning D&D into some sort of competitive e-sport. But I think when you see questions like “How important is it to you when you play D&D to make sure the game sessions run as smoothly as possible by taking care of logistics/scheduling” tells me they’re contemplating some sort of tool to assist with that sort of thing. If I were them, I’d be thinking of a “game finder” website, which would function like Meetup.com, but be D&D-specific.
As for the game play questions themselves, it could mean they’re in the early stages of doing specs for 6th edition, or it could be their way of honing the adventures to be published in the next few years. I honestly hope it’s the latter; it would be a shame to move on to 6th edition when 5th has been so well received by so many people.
Anyhoo, I do encourage everyone to take the survey. Vote for Greyhawk, naturally, but I think if WotC sees there’s a sizable number of us who are uninterested in electronic gaming, they will be more inclined to more robustly support the tabletop aspect.